PlayBook: Walruses and Kings

By Fraser Lockerbie

The rise and fall of football's Quarterback Kings.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things:

Of shoes, and ships and sealing wax, of quarterbacks and kings.”

-Lewis Carroll

That’s not quite verbatim but the Walrus is right; it is indeed time to talk. While his topics will likely be centered on the particulars of tricking and trapping oysters, ours will mostly be concerned with the ugly game of American football of which ships and sealing wax will only ever play a marginal role.

Kings on the other hand are common. Dan Marino’s 27 year hold on the single season passing record was shattered twice this season, once by Drew Brees and again last week by Tom Brady. This is not an overly common thing to have happen, what with it not happening once in 27 seasons of play, but for it to happen twice in a single year speaks to the caliber of football we’ve just spent 17 weeks watching.

Other Quarterback Kings this season include Aaron Rodgers who set the all-time passer rating bar at 122.5 with 45 TDs to only six picks and Cam Newton, who became the only rookie to throw for at least 4000 yards in his first professional year.

Cam’s gone now but the rest of these folks are what we call Kings, lifelong gamers with no interest in not being the best and yet their courts as it were, have fallen into disrepair, full of questionable holes of character and talent.

Through 16 games, no teams have given up more passing yards then the three presided over by Brees, Brady and Rodgers. Brady and Rodgers’ teams have actually surrendered the most total yards this season with the Saints only a few spots higher, padded by a rag-tag group of organizations like Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These are not the kind of stats that bode well against teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore who tend to play the game well on the both sides of the ball. In fact the Steelers, Texans, Ravens and Niners, in that order, sit atop the same YPG list the former three teams are on the bottom of and all of the former can play offense too, albeit without the flash and glamor of the Brees and the Bradys.

All this to say the teams who bullied their way through the schedule on the back of their offense might find their season undone when it becomes stuck in the mud. The Patriots are in no way equipped to fight a trench war in places like Pittsburgh or Baltimore and the Saints are actually hoping to draw the 15-1 Packers so they can play the shoot ‘em out game they at least have a shot to win.

Yes sir, January is a dark time when coups become commonplace; Kings can easily be unseated when they can’t control the pace of a game.

This Week’s Lines:

Cincinnati (+3) over Houston

The Foster/Schaub injury fiascoes bookending an otherwise successful Texans season have done little to dissuade the rest of the team that they are not playoff contenders. They’ve actually been more successful in yards per carry without them. Not the same can be said for wins though; since Schaub went down, the Texans are without one and are thankful things broke the way they did in the AFC. The Bengals on the other hand are hungry and healthy, with a pretty balanced offensive attack on the go. This game will still be tight given the Texans top five defense but they haven’t proven they can win a game without their fearless leader.

New Orleans (-10.5) over Detroit

Few teams came out and actually engaged New Orleans in a football game this season; for the most part another team just happened to be on the field while Drew Brees & Co. did their thing, which they did very well. New Orleans also has one of the best O-lines in the game rendering Detroit’s penchant for the pass rush moot. 10.5 is not a lot of ground for this Saints team to cover and Detroit is not the finely oiled machine we saw back in September.

Pittsburgh (-8.5) over Denver

Tebow – and Jesus - get a lot of credit for the many miracle fourth quarters the Broncos have manufactured this season when in truth they are at least equal parts the doing to kicker Matt Prater. Regardless of who we’re attributing miracles to, they’re done in Denver. The Steelers come into town as a 12-4 wild card against an 8-8 division winner and the result will be as you might expect; even with Big Ben’s ankle in question, the playoff seasoned Steelers will put on a clinic at Mile High.

Atlanta (+3) over New York

Anyone who has followed Brother Eli through the playoffs has noticed at least one thing: guy cannot play football at home in January. He has no TDs at home in the playoffs, no wins and under 300 yards in two games. On the road or neutral he is 4-1 with over a 1000 yards and eight TDs. They had to win the division to make playoffs but this is obviously not the ideal scenario for the Giants. They played their Super Bowl last week against the Cowboys.

Last Week: 7-6-3

Overall: 77-50-6



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